He told them, The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.
In church life – there is a common statement that is very sad. It goes like this – 20% of the people do 80% of the work in the church. At times this might be because the 20% has a hard time sharing or delegating the work load. At times it might be a control issue on the part of the 20%. But most often it is because the 80% aren’t joining in the labors for Christ in the church. Are we part of the 20% or the 80%?
Think about this for a moment. Are we only attending worship in our church and doing nothing else? Are we only taking what the church offers – youth ministry – children’s ministry – family ministry – worship – fellowship events – etc. and not giving anything back? In essence are we takers without being a givers as well?
There is another saying we might be familiar with – it goes like this – you get out of something what you put into it. I wonder what a church would look like if everyone associated with that church were to serve God in some capacity in the life of that church? What if everyone in the church considered themselves workers in the harvest fields Christ has for us? I mean – we can all help somewhere! Right? Continue reading
I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
As we near the end of 2016 and the beginning of 2017 – I’ve mentioned a focus for the new year. That focus is reaching the next generation. Our church is mainly made up of aging saints. The medium age of Laurel is 35 and our medium age at First Church is probably closer to 55 or higher. We have an awesome church – but – if we do not reach the next generation with Christ – in 10-30 years there will not be a First Church. I say that not to scare us but to bring into focus what the problem is as we make plans to reach the next generation.
Many churches focus on the membership of the church. I can see where this is important for sure. It is the membership that pays the bills – it is the membership that accomplishes the work of the church. It is the tried and true saints that help to keep the church functioning. Yet – without a constant influx of new people and new ideas – it is very easy for a church to grow stale and eventually die.
John Wesley once said – I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation. –Journal, June 11, 1739. The founder of the Methodist Church felt he wasn’t bound to parish boundaries. He felt like he could preach wherever he found himself. We should feel this way today – that our parish is not bound to those inside our church – but our parish is all who will hear. Continue reading
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
In a church I once served – dismissing the children for children’s church meant a large number of those in worship got up and left – a number that included the many children and the numerous volunteers and staff that went with them. In a day when many churches are filled with gray hairs and few if any children – God is calling us to wake-up and look for ways to reach out to younger families and their children/youth. In reading the Bible – this passage came to mind – and I wondered if there are actually churches today that would turn families and children away as the disciples tried to do in Jesus day.
I would hope that no church would actually turn families and children away – but let’s look at this for a moment from the other side of the coin so to speak. How do churches attract or draw families with young children? I had conversations with three young couples that were attending that former church I mentioned earlier. I asked them why they chose to come to that church and continued to attend. These are some of the reasons they gave me. First off – all three said they found us on our website. They were looking for a church home and two said they were looking for a church home with young people and a ministry to young people. They liked seeing pictures of our children and youth ministries on the website. They appreciated that we were staffed for children and youth – with a full-time children’s director and a full-time youth director – and that we had many activities for their children and youth. In other words – we were reaching out to them before they ever started to attend. Continue reading
1 Timothy 4:12
Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.
I remember watching my dad and the young men and women he trained along the way in his ministry. Many of them began as church hires – working with the youth – working with visitation – working with the general ministry of the church. Some came to our church as conference appointments. At Seat Pleasant (now Gethsemane) and Trinity in Annapolis he had several young people enter the ministry through their joint ministries. I remember well these young people who were entering ministry and how my dad mentored them and gave them many opportunities to serve and learn. Several were at his funeral last fall or sent letters and cards expressing how much dad meant to them.
I remember the young men and women who came through the churches I have served and still serve. Being young is something I don’t have to worry about any longer. There is still time though to pass along some wisdom and insights in ministry to those who are beginning the journey. I have worked with numerous staff members over the years – several are now elders in our conference – and it has been a blessing. I have also used social media of late as a way to connect with other young pastors and have enjoyed working with others. I hope they have enjoyed our interactions as well. Continue reading